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Advocaat, Hiddink Heading to Russia

Posted June. 28, 2006 03:02,   


Richard Wagner, a German composer of the 19th Century, wrote an opera based on a Norwegian legend about a love story of a ghost who was once a Dutch captain but had to roam around the world due to god’s curse. There are also another Dutch who love wandering in the 21st century. They cannot give up their love of football just like ghosts in the legend could not die: Guus Hiddink (60), a coach who helped the Korean football team advance to the semifinal in the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, and Dick Advocaat (59) who was a coach of the Korean team in the 2006 World Cup.

The two coaches, both born in the Netherlands, are heading to Russia in July. Hiddink, as a coach for the Australian national football team that lost to Italy in the Germany World Cup 2006, has signed with Russian national team, while Advocaat will join the Russian professional soccer club Zenit St. Petersburg.

Hiddink is a person of charisma while Advocaat is a person of reason. But they share many common things in personal life. Both of them played only in their homeland and they are not famous football stars. They could not even advance to the Bundesliga of Germany or the premier league of England. The two of them have had to be so-called Bohemian coaches. Hiddink started his coaching life in Spain then moved to Korea and to Australia and finally to Russia, while Advocaat started in Scotland then moved to Germany and to the United Arab Emirates, Korea, then to Russia.

Advocaat gets a 1.9 billion won annual salary with the utmost support from the Russian President-

At the press conference held in Grand Hilton Hotel in Seoul on June 27, Advocaat said, “I am 59 years old. It is not a young age as a football coach. That explains why I contracted only one and half years with the Korean national football team. What I have had in my mind for a long time is to play games with players in a club team as much as I want in my last coaching years.” That comment gives such an impression that he wants to quit his coaching life.

Advocaat’s biggest supporter is Russian President Putin. St. Petersburg, the hometown of Zenit St. Petersburg, is also the hometown of the president. Putin is a well-known fan of Zenit St. Petersburg. The sponsor of Zenit St. Petersburg is Russia’s largest gas company, Gazprom, run by the state. It is fair to say that the Russian government supports the football team. Advocaat who made 720 million won during his 9-month stay in Korea, is going to make more money amounting to 2 million dollars a year.

Hiddink’s annual pay reaches 2.4 billion won with his own plane-

Hiddink said, “I have never had any single regrettable moment after making a decision. The World Cup is held every four years and I always return to my normal life – the level of coaching the club-after it.” His remarks reflect that his decision to go to Russia is one of his plans. The most attractive incentive to those roaming Dutch is a high salary.

The person who attracted Hiddink and pays his high salary is Roman Abramovich (40), who took over England’s Chelsea in 2003. He is a billionaire with his Russian oil and steel businesses and was selected as the world’s 11th richest man by Forbes, the American magazine. His wealth amounts to 18.2 billion dollars. He even offered Hiddink a plane only for his personal use, probably for his convenience to fly from his home in the Netherlands to Russia. It sounds like he got two jobs with a position of a coach for Netherlands PSV Eindhoven. He received a 2.5 million dollar annual salary in Australia.

Chang Jeon jeon@donga.com